A couple days after absorbing a 59-14 shellacking at the hands of Oregon, Tennessee coach Butch Jones has decided to open up the Vols’ starting quarterback competition.
Junior Justin Worley started the first three games and is atop the depth chart for Saturday’s game at No. 19 Florida, but Jones told the media on Monday that the quarterback who performs best in practice this week would earn the start.
Worley has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 372 yards and five touchdowns (with one pick) so far this season. However, he was lackluster against the Ducks, hitting on 15 of 29 for 138 yards and a TD.
But who would replace Worley? Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman has thrown 12 passes this season, completing six of them for 40 yards. True freshmen Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs haven’t played at all.
It seems like Jones is looking for some sort of dynamic running threat at the position.
“Just like any position in our program, it’s open,” Jones said. “Whatever quarterback has the best week of practice will be the starter for Tennessee when we play Florida. If that means a freshman quarterback, that means a freshman quarterback. We’ll add more quarterback run into our package this week. We just need to find ways to generate big explosive plays. If that’s Josh Dobbs running the read option or Riley Ferguson, that’s what we’ll do.”
Both Ferguson and Dobbs were recruited by Jones, while he inherited Worley and Peterman from Tennessee’s previous staff. Since Jones prefers to run a spread option style offense, he probably feels more comfortable with the guys he recruited at quarterback.
If Tennessee is going to struggle this year anyway on offense, he might as well let his guys take some lumps now so they’ll be ready to perform at a higher level next season.